One thing, among many, that Spain and the United States have in common is that its world-class cities have world-class zoos. It is also the primary reason the over 230 accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is watching very closely how the city council of Barcelona considers potentially severe regulation of the Barcelona Zoo.
Like Barcelona Zoo, AZA members are heavily involved in the conservation of endangered species. For example, in 2017 alone, AZA members contributed over US$220 million to field conservation, helping to save animals from extinction. Removing iconic species from Barcelona Zoo will hamper its ability to continue to contribute to the global epidemic of species decline.
Like Barcelona Zoo, AZA members welcome school groups to their facilities. Often, the local zoo or aquarium is the only place children can learn about, let alone see, wild animals. They learn about respectful and compassionate care of animals. They learn about endangered species, and steps they can take to help save them from extinction. Removing nearly 2,000 animals from Barcelona Zoo would seem to suggest the Council places no value on the documented impact that seeing wildlife can have on thousands of visitors. We hope this was not your intention.
Like Barcelona Zoo, AZA members are economic drivers for their communities. Collectively, AZA members generate more than $22 billion in annual economic activity and support more than 208,000 jobs across the United States. Removing thousands of animals from Barcelona Zoo will no doubt mean professional zoological staff will have to find new careers. Tourist interest will decline, as will the Euros they spend. Both will have a significant economic impact on your city.
Like Barcelona Zoo, AZA-accredited facilities are also community gathering places where people feel safe and find inspiration. Barcelona Zoo provides a similar safe space for people to find a quiet place to stroll and spend an enjoyable and educational day with their family or friends. Experiences like this will be increasingly valuable as human populations continue to urbanize, and opportunities to experience animals in an accessible, safe, respectful and responsible environment continue to decline.
And, like Barcelona Zoo is committed to meeting high, professional standards for zoos and aquariums by being accredited by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, AZA members are accredited by the AZA. AZA's accreditation process assures that only those zoos and aquariums that meet the highest standards can become members of the AZA. Being an accredited zoo matters! EAZA's accreditation process provides the same oversight and reassurance to the public. By undermining the professionals at Barcelona Zoo, you are undermining the trust other governments like you put in accreditation processes.
In short, if you have concerns with Barcelona Zoo, we suggest that you reach out to accredited zoos and accrediting organizations to help you envision the zoo that will reflect Barcelona’s position as a world-class city. Your current direction seems to reflect good short-term politics, but in the long-term, will shortchange their city's economic and community interests, and global status.
We are hopeful the Council will change direction, and instead of a regulatory deconstruction, will help inspire a renaissance in the Barcelona Zoo.
The Accredited Members of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums
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